Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Real Natural Food Culture with Dr. Sears

It is good to see Dr Sears wade into the defense of our food system and put paid to the curious idea that a vegetarian based diet is somehow more ethical.

Recall that every acre of farm land is taken out of the wild.  This always means the destruction of about fifteen feet of living biomass in the soils themselves.  Once destroyed we reduce it to a working seedbed and soil that is rarely more than a few inches thick.  A good rule of thumb is figure that we lose fifteen tons of carbon in the process.  For forests, it is closer to thirty tons of carbon ripped out of the living biome.

Massive numbers of living lifeforms are also destroyed and living room for others disappears.

In short that bowl of granola represents the death of a lot of insects and other beneficial plants.

As Dr sears makes so clear, we are part of the cycle of life and what we consume in that cycle of life is not the real issue.  What matters so much is how we husband that cycle of life to optimise our food supply.  This is one  of the fundamental themes of this blog.

We have created a system that tries to ignore our part in that cycle and that is a bad idea.  That movement was driven by a primitive agricultural economy interacting with a superior modernist economy.  My core argument is that we can introduce a modernist agricultural economy that blends naturally with the modernist industrial and services economy and produce major efficiencies and a hugely superior life way.

Magically this is the one thing our civilization can do that really is eating our cake and having it too.

We're All Born Into the Same Play

I was reading The New York Times recently, and when I got to the Sunday Review section, I stopped cold. There was a disturbing picture of a chicken with a piece of broccoli for a head and an article entitled “A Chicken Without Guilt.”

I had my suspicions as to what this was about, but I read on anyway.

It was no surprise that the author of the article is a fan of fake meat, and wants us to replace eating animals with eating plant-based meat products.

He writes, “Really: Would I rather eat cruelly raised, unhealthful, polluting chicken, or a plant product that’s nutritionally similar or superior ... and requires no cutting off heads or other nasty things?”

He likes that the newest fake meat from soy can fool him because it tastes good. As if taste is the main thing to be concerned about. In other words, as long as it tastes like meat, then the meat lovers have everything they could possibly want! The only objection is that the synthetic stuff doesn’t yet taste like chicken.

I remember seeing an article a while back that claimed we would all soon be “in-vitrotarians” – that we would eat meat that is grown on racks from meat cells instead of from animals. And this article talks a little bit about that. Except he tries to differentiate his argument by saying “Hey, I’m not talking about stuff grown in test tubes. I’m talking about real food made from nature; real soybeans.”

I mean... where do I start?

You Can’t Opt Out

The ignorance... that this guy is in The NY Times. It’s so absolutely incredible to me that a well-intentioned, well-connected, educated reporter can write at that level but be so uninformed about something as basic as this. That he doesn’t know that he’s dependent on the cycle of nature. That he’s indebted to it. A part of it.

That he is part of a chain in a circle that no one can opt out of. What, he thinks he can because he doesn’t like the idea? He doesn’t get to make that call. We’re born into this play, and this is our role.

He writes, “Even the Department of Agriculture is on the side of plant-based diets.” Well, they would be, because that’s where the profit is. The Department of Agriculture exists to promote the interests of American farmers, not to protect you and me.

If our government were really committed to making sure we fed the most people with the best nutrition at the lowest cost and the most effectively, they would have everybody eat two eggs a day, a relatively small portion of meat a couple of times a day, and to supplement with locally grown vegetables and fruits.

It would be inexpensive, easy on the environment. They would tell people “If you live in Florida, don’t buy stuff from across the other side of the country because it costs too much and is too hard on the environment to transport it.

“Try to pick things locally, make sure you get a couple of eggs because they’re healthy for everybody and they’re very low-cost, very fast to produce, have a low effect on the environment, they’re sustainable, they cost less than a dime a piece, and they give you everything you need.”

It would solve all the problems of letting the schools feed the children all this junk with no nutrition that makes the kids fat.

If you had the government really committed to the best health for the most people, it wouldn’t be hard for them to come to that conclusion. But the government doesn’t actually believe that what I’m telling you is true.

But the reason they don’t believe it’s true is because they’ve had their vision clouded by other motives and interests that get involved in the process. Government is influenced by that, and they listen. It’s created this culture that is supported by those interests, which are not your best interests.

Worse Than Big Brother

It’s worse than anything George Orwell could have dreamed up when he wrote those books about the future, and how you’d have big brother, or the pigs taking over.

His book Animal Farm is really about politics, and the politicians’ capacity to influence the thinking of the masses to the point of nonsensical ridiculousness. The new-speak. That you couldn’t call things what they really were because you wanted the words to reflect what the ruling party wanted you to think about that thing.

We see that now. It’s happened to a ridiculous degree. But to far more insidious consequences than Orwell predicted. The Times author writes, “Why use the poor chicken as a machine to produce meat when you can use a machine to produce meat that seems like chicken?”

Above: A commercial chicken barn... basically a steel box that produces roaster chickens. Below: A pasture where chickens are raised naturally. Which direction would you rather our food production go in?

That belies a very profound ignorance. He presumes that everybody can accept that it’s better to have a machine produce our food than an animal for food. That it’s OK to completely opt out of the cycle of life.

It’s a very basic foundation for your existence on this planet – that you were born with a debt to this cycle. That you only borrow resources and then you return them. When you borrow them, you are indebted to pay them back. That’s the way it works. You can’t really get out of it.

You can try, and you can delay, but then the whole cycle suffers and everyone else in the cycle suffers and then it will kill you. Because we don’t have an alternative.

And, there’s no way we can make it better. It’s beautiful beyond our capacity to completely understand. We don’t even know all the things that are going on. Just be glad and be grateful that you are born into it. Rejoice, instead of thinking you’ve got something better.

Our long-term destiny might be to understand, and then transcend it somehow. But to think that we are smart enough, and just to take a piece of that chain without awareness that it’s even a part of the chain, and just say we don’t need that, do this instead... it’s ignorance.

Part of transcending is acceptance and rejoicing. That you’re blessed to be a part of it.

To say, “Why have a chicken as a machine when we could have a machine make chicken” is a rejection of the entire cycle of life.

Even worse, he writes, “Almost all unbiased people agree that less meat is better than more.” But he’s very, very biased and hasn’t spoken to people who aren’t biased, or he wouldn’t have that view. There’s really no evidence that eating natural meat is bad for you.

All the evidence that meat is bad came from adulterated meat – from animals that have been unnaturally grown with hormones and kept alive by antibiotics and fed an unnatural diet of grain. The evidence that meat is wrong comes from meat that is itself wrong.

We changed the nature of it, and the consequences have been horrible. And now the Times article author is suggesting we do the same thing – create something artificially – to replace chicken.

He’s saying, instead of making a place that looks like a machine that houses live chickens, why don’t we make it all machine. He looks at those chickens being commercially raised and farmed inside of a steel barn, and says, “This is wrong. So why don’t we do it a hundred times more wrong. Then maybe it won’t be wrong anymore.”

It’s an extreme example of two wrongs don’t make a right. What I’m saying is yes, it’s wrong, but we need to go back in the other direction. We need to take the machine (the steel barn) off the top of the chickens and let them run around outside in the sunshine and grass like they’re supposed to.

Because the unethical treatment of animals is not that we eat them. Nothing is more natural than that. It’s part of life.

I’m saying it’s unethical not to eat meat. And it’s even worse – despite what the author and so-called “ethical” vegetarians try to tell you – to try to manufacture new foods from grains to replace meat. Because these cultivated crops kill more animals and ruin the ecosystem more than any amount of meat-eating ever has or ever could.

Next, I’ll show you what I mean, and what you can do about it...

Ethics Are the Enemy, Not Meat

Vegetarians and people who want us to eat only a plant-based diet often look down their noses at the rest of us, thinking they’re morally and politically correct. It’s elitist thinking. They don’t believe they owe a debt to the energy we all share in nature. They want to remove themselves from the real world so they don’t have to participate.

But in the real world, you have to participate and play the game.

It’s the same game we’ve played successfully for millions of years until they wanted to change it. You borrow energy by eating meat. Then one day you get eaten, and you give it back.

Of course, you can avoid being eaten by a predator in modern times. But in the end, you’re going to be eaten by something. Eventually, your carbon, nitrogen, and your energy are returned back to the earth.

We’re not really at the top of the food pyramid when we eat meat. Because it’s not a pyramid at all. It’s a circle. And you’re a part of it.

Vegetarians who convert back to meat eating have matured. They’ve stopped clinging to childlike arguments and wishful thinking. They act with what the ancients call “adult knowledge.”

Adult knowledge is what our primitive ancestors knew instinctively. That we’re indebted to nature from the moment we’re born. We’re dependent on other living creatures.

It’s Not “Nice” to Avoid Meat

The argument that it’s somehow kinder to eat a plant-based diet because you don’t want to be cruel to animals is a very simplistic, immature, emotional and uneducated response to eating meat. And it tugs at people’s hearts, that you would prefer not to have to butcher anything to survive. The problem is, you can’t.

Almost every creature ends up as some other creature’s dinner. As I said, it’s a circle, and even the animals at the “top” aren’t at the top. Look at the lion. King of the jungle. Most feared predator in its domain... yet at the end of its life, it becomes food for a pack of hyenas.

Do vegetarians want to put a stop to that, too? It’s hypocritical thinking. Why do animals – who are apparently deprived of their “rights” if they become our food – have the right to survive in the wild at the expense of other animals, but humans don’t?

The truth is, vegetarians, vegans and people like the NY Times author of the article “A Chicken Without Guilt” that I mentioned in the Health Confidential letter above are drawing an arbitrary line when deciding which fellow-creatures are worthy of protection

Most of us wouldn’t eat another human being even if our lives depended on it. But that’s arbitrary as far as nature goes. Other animals do eat their own. It seems to me that vegetarians are simply making an arbitrary stand at some point on the “cuteness” spectrum.

Even if you were to become a vegetarian you cause more animal death. Because meat on your plate is just one life. But what you have to think about is all the animal lives it costs to put annually grown crops on your plate.

You’re Killing Off... Everything

To be a vegetarian means that you are going to rely on grains. Grains are annual grasses that cause the worst devastation to an environment and require the annihilation of the every other living thing in that ecosystem except that crop, which no amount of meat consumption does.

If you’re eating something like pasta, that came from a field of wheat, you killed off all the wolves, all the foxes, all the rabbits, half of the birds, all the insects, all the small animals that eat the insects...

And because there are so many people who eat so much of that stuff, you killed off whole regional ecosystems. Gone, because you thought that eating corn and wheat was better than eating the deer and the rabbits that live there now, naturally.

For example, take Kansas and Illinois, two states that have both forest and prairie, and compare   the animals that used to roam free there with what they have now.

Did you know that the Illinois listing of endangered and threatened animals goes on for four pages? It includes the timber wolf, more than 30 kinds of fish, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, snakes, crayfish and owls.

The Kansas list looks similar. And do you know what the Kansas state animal is? The American buffalo. Buffalo and Indian in their hunter-gatherer societies existed together for thousands of years, with negligible impact. I think you know the rest of the story there.

And if you look at other places around the world where people remain hunter-gatherers, their effect on the environment has been negligible, too.

I’ve seen it for myself, with the Batwa tribe in Africa and the Ashaninkas in South America. Their environments have been relatively stable for thousands of years. They still look much like they always did. Because the people and animals are all a part of it.


When I visited the Batwa in Africa, I found them living much as they have since the Stone Age... and with no adverse effect on their forest environment. Because they are a part of it.

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with being indignant about the practices of commercial meat production. There’s nothing wrong with being indignant about seeing those chickens in a giant barn. It’s terrible and it need not happen.

Where to Find Fresh, Pure Poultry

The commercial farming industry is a travesty. But eating meat is not ethically wrong. Eating ethically wrong meat is wrong.

This should be a rally cry for converts. Former vegetarians who now eat meat understand this concept. When you purchase grass-fed meat from small, independent ranchers, it’s sustainable.

And much healthier than commercial meat – or no meat at all. For example, the eggs from pasture-raised chickens are incredible. 

I helped my friend A.N. convert her farm in Loxahatchee, Florida – a few miles from my clinic – over to producing soy feed-free, organic eggs. 

Pretty soon, the hens she and her husband tend started producing the most delicious eggs I had ever tasted. Then she started bringing them to my staff by the dozen.

Not long after her eggs became such a big hit, I decided to have a study done on them. We had a lab in Chicago test them and measure to see how they compared to eggs you can buy at a grocery store. 

The organic eggs my staff and I eat have:

ñ65% fewer carbs than a regular egg
ñ10% more protein
ñ20% more iron
ñ72% more vitamin A
ñ211% more of the vision-sharpening carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin
ñ319% more omega-3s
ñ1,664% more calcium 3
You can tell right away organic eggs have more carotenoids because the yolks are more yellow. It has a lot to do with the fact that A.N.’s hens are allowed to run around in the warm sunshine instead of being caged up like commercial chickens are.

And that’s just the eggs. Free-range chicken is healthier, too. More protein per serving, and more B vitamins, especially B12, which we’re already deficient in.

The answer, then, isn’t to make the barn into a giant machine that produces fake chicken “meat” from grains and soy. The answer is to take the barn off the chickens, and take the grains and soy out of their diet.

The good news is, free-range eggs and pasture-raised poultry are becoming more popular, and so farmers are responding by supply more of them to the market. You can now get them both locally and over the Internet.

You can buy pasture-raised chicken from sites like:

ñ – soy-free chickens raised at a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, sustainable farm in Texas.  
ñshadygroveranch .net – all animals get certified organic feed that is GMO-free and soy-free
ñgarciafarms .com – small, family-owned farm has been raising chickens for over 40 years.
ñmaryschickens .com – pasture raised in California and living a lifestyle and environment that is closest to their natural state. 
ñrayfamilyfarms .com – the birds are never caged and raised outside in the sunlight
You can find out more information on local pasture-raised chicken at:
ñAmerican Grassfed Association (americangrassfed .org) – Certifies farms and ranches around the country, works with the USDA to standardize what pasture-raised means, and has news and even recipes.
ñUS Wellness Meats (grasslandbeef .com) – A resource for naturally produced meat, with videos and insight from experts.
ñAmerican Pastured Poultry Producers Association (apppa .org) – Nonprofit educational and networking organization dedicated to encouraging the production, processing, and marketing of poultry raised on pasture.
ñChicken Feed: Pastured Poultry (lionsgrip .com/pastured.html) – Recipes, articles plus links and other resources on all things pasture-raised poultry.
ñLocal Harvest (localharvest .org) – A complete index of farms near you.

1. Endangered Species Protection Board. Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
2. Threatened and Endangered Species. Kansas Dept. Of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
3. Siliker Labs, Dec 23, 2010; Certificate of Analysis no. CHG-34190924-0.

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